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Benjamin D. Esham / Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]

On This Day in 1975, Space Mountain Opened

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Benjamin D. Esham / Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]

On January 15, 1975, Walt Disney World's Space Mountain rollercoaster opened to the public. It was the key feature of Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom.

An enormous pageant was held to celebrate the event, featuring "thousands of flying doves, a pageant of nations, a 2000-member band, 50,000 balloons," and red, white, and blue fireworks. Mercury 7 pilot Scott Carpenter and a handful of other astronauts were on hand.

Here's the most exciting bit of the opening ceremony:

And if that's not enough celebration for you, let's put it in the larger 48-minute context of this groovy TV special:

For more, read 15 Out-Of-This-World Facts About Space Mountain (including how Neil Armonstrong helped re-launch the ride in 2005!). You might also enjoy video of Space Mountain With the Lights On.

(Space Mountain photo courtesy of Benjamin D. Esham / Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0 us], via Wikimedia Commons.)

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What's the Kennection? #160
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© 2017 Disney
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10 Amazing Additions Coming to Disney Parks and Resorts
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© 2017 Disney

Whether you're a Star Wars fan, a Marvel aficionado, or a Mickey and Minnie purist, Disney Parks and Resorts has just announced new rides, hotels, and attractions that are sure to make your mouse ears perk up. Here are 10 of the most exciting changes announced over the weekend at D23 Expo.

1. A STAR WARS-THEMED HOTEL

That sound you just heard was Star Wars fans across the galaxy warming up their lightsabers. Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek announced plans for a completely immersive Star Wars-themed hotel, where guests are declared citizens of the galaxy the moment they check in. "The story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits," Chapek said. More details, including the opening date, are yet to come.

2. A RATATOUILLE RIDE

© 2017 Disney

A bit of Disneyland Paris is coming to the U.S. In 2014, the Paris park introduced a 4-D attraction where guests "shrink" to the size of Remy, the rat from Ratatouille, and scurry across the floor of Gusteau's restaurant. The ride will make its stateside debut in the France Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase by 2021.

3. A GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY RIDE

© Marvel © 2017 Disney

Sorry, Ellen DeGeneres fans—"Ellen's Energy Adventure" at Epcot will take a bow on August 13. Following the success of Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! ride at Disney California Adventure, Disney has announced a similarly themed adventure for Florida. The new thrill ride will replace the Universe of Energy pavilion, which currently houses Ellen's Energy Adventure. Like the Ratatouille ride, Star Lord and his pals should be ready to escape sometime in 2021.

4. A NEW LIVE ENTERTAINMENT THEATER

To bring more live entertainment to the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Disney is building a theater inspired heavily by the Willis Wood Theater from 1920s-era Kansas City, where Walt Disney spent part of his childhood. The building will be located just off of Main Street, USA.

5. "MICKEY AND MINNIE’S RUNAWAY RAILWAY" RIDE

© 2017 Disney

There's another new ride headed to Hollywood Studios—and, unbelievably, it's the first ride at Disney Parks to feature Mickey himself as the theme. The attraction puts guests inside a Mickey cartoon, promising "surprising twists and turns, dazzling visual effects and mind-boggling transformations," all in a new format Disney is referring to as "2 1/2 D."

The new attraction isn't without controversy, though—it's slated to replace The Great Movie Ride, which, with its Grauman's Chinese Theater facade, has been one of Hollywood Studios' visual anchors since it opened as Disney-MGM Studios in 1989.

6. A TRON LIGHTCYCLE POWER RUN

The highest-rated attraction at Shanghai Disneyland is coming to Florida. In "TRON: Lightcycle Power Run," riders will board a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles before heading out to explore the TRON universe. Scheduled to be ready for riders in 2021, the new TRON coaster will be situated next to Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom.

7. PIXAR PIER

The area at Disney California Adventure currently known as Paradise Pier will go through a Pixar-themed overhaul, with "whimsical neighborhoods" featuring characters from The Incredibles, Inside Out, Toy Story, and more.

8. SKYWAY GONDOLAS

© 2017 Disney

Magic Kingdom-goers who miss the old skyway ride that took weary guests between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland have something to rejoice about. The new Disney Skyliner gondola system will connect several of their hotels with Disney's Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot. Though an official opening date wasn't announced, construction is already underway, with insiders speculating at a date as early as summer 2018. Also announced: an Uber-like point-to-point transportation system with a familiar red-and-white polka dot motif.

9. A MARVEL-THEMED HOTEL

© Marvel © 2017 Disney

You’ll have to get yourself to Disneyland Paris to experience this re-themed hotel, which is currently called Disney's Hotel New York. After the overhaul, hotel guests will find themselves transported to worlds including the Avengers and Spider-Man, among others.

10. "IMMERSIVE SUPER HERO EXPERIENCE"

Very little detail was provided on this upcoming project, but we do know that Spider-Man and the Avengers will be joining Guardians of the Galaxy heroes at Disney California Adventure sometime in the future.

BONUS UPDATES

Disney also provided new news on two much-anticipated projects that are currently underway: the Star Wars and Toy Story Land additions. Two rides are on the way to Toy Story Land: Slinky Dog Dash, a family roller coaster, and Alien Swirling Saucers, in which the three-eyed green guys try to capture your rocket using The Claw. The toy-centric addition to the park is scheduled to open in summer 2018.

Construction on Star Wars-themed lands, officially called Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, has begun at both Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim. Both lands will feature a ride that gives guests the opportunity to pilot the Millennium Falcon through a critical mission. Another attraction will give guests the experience of being on a Star Destroyer. Both the Florida and California lands are scheduled to open in 2019. Until then, this fly-through will have to tide you over:

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